UCLA quantum physicist David Leibrandt has received a five-year, $1.25 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to study one of the missing pieces from the laws of physics.

His work to solve a problem called the symmetry violation may ultimately help answer the question of how the universe began. According to our understanding of the universe, the Big Bang should have produced equal amounts of matter and antimatter. But that premise poses two problems: First, the universe is almost entirely matter. Second, when matter and antimatter meet, they destroy each other. If an equal amount of both were created, where is all the antimatter now? And, if matter and antimatter should have annihilated each other, how does the universe exist at all?

In his investigations, Leibrandt will apply some of the same precision measurement techniques he has already developed while designing some of the world’s most accurate atomic clocks. The support from the Moore Foundation will fund the development of new tools and enable Leibrandt to conduct a wide array of new experiments.

Read more about David Leibrandts work.